Hardware / How-to

4th Generation IPod Sad Face Fix

So I recently got my girlfriend a new MP3 player, and as she was showing it off, her sister says that she has an IPod, but that it doesn’t work anymore.  Me being curious, asks her to bring it out so that I can see what’s wrong with it.  So she brings out a 4th generation IPod Color, and we proceeded to start it up.  Immediately after the Apple logo, there was a little sad face icon, and a URL to http://www.apple.com/support/ipod/.

I checked out the URL once I got home later that night, and after some poking around, I found the what seems famous IPod 5 R’s Troubleshooting Assistant – Reset, Retry, Restart, Reinstall, and Restore.  I tried to Reset the device by holding both the ‘Menu’ button and center ‘Select’ button for about 6-10 seconds, you’ll see the Apple logo flash once, and then come on again, unfortunately I still got the sad face. Retry, Restart and Reinstall seemed totally useless for a problem of this nature, where ‘Retry’ tells you to try different USB ports, ‘Restart’ tells you to restart your computer, and ‘Reinstall’ tells you to reinstall your IPod onto your computer.  Clearly this is a hardware problem, therefore I didn’t even bother trying these solutions, the final solution to ‘Restore’ the IPod using the iTunes software, thus removing any data on the IPod, seemed like it may work, if there was some kind of software corruption, but after reading the previous, useless solutions, I deceided to dig deeper and find any other problems with this version of IPod.

A quick search would reveal that a recurring problem with the 4th gen IPod is that the hard drive cable comes loose! Now a lot of people would solve this problem by hitting, smashing, or ramming their (once expensive) IPod onto the floor, input connector end first, which may knock the hard drive connector back into place.  Clearly im not going to try and smash an IPod which is not even my own.

The logical way to go about this problem is to open it up, and physically reattach the cable, the only problem is how do you open up a device which has no screws?  Luckily there were many people with this problem, so finding a tutorial was easy, finding the least damaging methods was not.

Here’s what I did:

*** Preform at your own risk! I am not recommending that anyone do this, before you cause more damage to your IPod ***

Project Time: 5 minutes

Needed: Utility Knife (or a fairly sharp sturdy object)

*** Be careful when using sharp objects!!!

1. Place the knife between the metal housing and the plastic front

2. Basically your going to wedge the knife down into the metal housing, and squeeze the plastic front so that its clips come free from the metal case.

3. Once loose there will be a ribbon cable which connect the two together, be careful not to break this cable, just have each side lie next to each other.

4. The hard drive is located in the plastic part, the hard drive connector is at the top of hard drive with a long black piece of plastic.

5. Very Very carefully pull the connector out of the socket using the black plastic, trying not to bend any of the pins.

6. Check to make sure all the pins are there, and there is nothing in the connector which would block any of the pins.  If anything, use some compressed air to *SOFTLY* blow any particles out.

7.  Carefully place the connector back into the hard drive, making sure not to bend any pins, and that the hard drive connector is on tight and secure.

8.  Put the metal casing back on the way it came off, check the ribbon cable is in correctly, and the two should snap back together.

9.  Once back together securely, is reset the IPod by holding the ‘Menu’ and center ‘Select’ button for about 6 seconds.

10. Back in business! All the songs are still there, and everything seems to be working perfectly

The Video Tutorial which I used was very good, it was actually for fully replacing the hard drive, but it clearly showed me how to open it up, and find the hard drive. You can find it here.

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15 thoughts on “4th Generation IPod Sad Face Fix

  1. i don know who u are…wer u from …but u saved me 14 gigs of preciously collected music….a BIG BIG thanks dude…mail me if possible…THANKS A LOT once more dude

  2. no luck … didn’t work for me … I keep getting a sound like the HDD is spinning up and then it immediately spins down (or that’s what it sounds like). I might have to look into replacing the drive, but after a quick search on-line it seems like i could probably get a new player for just a little bit more.

  3. Thank you!!!!
    Worked perfectly. Case was difficult to get off. I still have ten fingers, but only just!
    You’re a star.

  4. Thank you so much! Literally just about to stick my 40gb 4th gen ipod on ebay as faulty, but now it’s back to original, you are a star!!!!

  5. Hey thanks for saving me time and money,,not to mention missing out on my audiobook episode tomorrow ,,You are a kind and lovely being to leave this info ,,,,It Works!

  6. I thought mine was trashed. I really appreciate you doing this step by step. It did correct my ipod and it’s back up and running.

    Thanks much.

  7. I really appreciate your post. It helped me fix it in no time. It started working right when I inserted the pin back. This iPod had not been working since 2004.. God bless =]

  8. thanks so much easy understanding’ sadly this hasn’t worked for me.

    But it was something I hadn’t tryed before so worth a go..

    cheers again :)

  9. I can’t thank you enough. I’ve had this iPod for years and it was given to me by my late father, so I’d feel bad if I had to replace it. But thank to you, I don’t have to. Many thanks, my friend!

    ~Dave

  10. I had just recently replaced the LCD screen on my friends 4th Gen Classic that he gave to me cause he no longer wanted it. 2 days later it fell out of my coat pocket while i was getting out of my car to go to work, it worked for about an hour while I was at work then just died and gave me a sad iPod. So this morning I googled and came across this. I went for the physical abuse approach which proved to be more than adequate in fixing the issue, mostly because I was too lazy to take it apart again. Haha. Thank you for this write up! I thought I was going to have to replace the HDD on it.

  11. Extremely useful and exactly what I was looking for, many many thanks for taking the time to share, it’s very much appreciated!

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